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Updates on Raja Ampat’s MPA Network by Nikka Amanda Gunadharma, photos by Rens Lewerissa

Administrators note: In an effort to keep you informed about what is happening in Raja Ampat and the BHS while COVID-19 keeps visitors away, we have asked NGO staff to send us updates.  The following is a report about what is happening with the MPA (Marine Protected Area) Network and its staff including the ranger patrol teams.  Nikka Amanda Gunadharma is their coordinator.  Nikka writes:

“Fortunately for us here in West Papua, we don’t have that many positive COVID-19 cases compared to Jakarta and its vicinity; hopefully things will get better soon.

Environmental education program on coconut crab protection being implemented in Fam Islands public schools ©Rens Lewerissa

Regarding Raja Ampat: our latest ‘contact’ with the personnel of Raja Ampat MPA Network’s management unit stationed in Fam Islands MPA was on the 17th until the 20th of March 2020, as a part of our mentorship program. The personnel of the Post also conducted environmental education on coconut crab protection as part of our strategy there.

Teaching the children about environmental protection of coconut crabs ©Rens Lewerissa

Subsequent to Fam Islands, we planned to visit posts in Mayalibit Bay MPA, Dampier Strait MPA, Asia and Ayau Islands MPA, Wayag, Kofiau-Boo Islands, Misool MPA, at the same time we will also planned to mentor the main MPA office staff based in Waisai. But, with this pandemic, our plan was definitely put on hold.

This particular mentorship program, which was also done last year, starting in early March, basically aims to ensure the work implemented by the personnel in each MPA’s post regarding regular patrol and other outreach activities meets certain standards on a consistent basis.  The idea is to develop the capacity of each staff member regarding these activities so that dependency between them will be reduced; hence, a more solid team.In a nutshell, we visited each post of Raja’s MPAs, staying in each one for 3-4 days.  We provided them with some materials, and observed them implementing their daily tasks.We will repeat this mentorship program again this year to ensure that our work last year is still ongoing.  We will be providing them with new materials as well. I attached some pictures from the aforementioned activities.

Mentorship Program implementation workshop for MPA rangers ©Rens Lewerissa

Additionally today, I consulted with a staff member of the management unit, who says that they received MPA patrol reports from March.  The West Papua Province Government has issued a memo regarding work from home until at least 26th of April 2020.  But since there are still no known COVID-19 positive cases in Raja Ampat, the rangers plan to conduct survey patrols for April (presuming there are no significant incidents regarding the pandemic).  Of course, the patrols will be conducted with the emphasis on personal health in relation with the pandemic.

I personally appreciate that the rangers insist on conducting their regular patrols, which are essential (crime never sleeps) for the integrity of the MPAs in Raja Ampat. So, unless there are other technical difficulties (tardiness of fuel supply, personal health issues, etc.), patrol is still on for April.

Fam MAP Rangers doing data collection in conjunction with local fisherman ©Rens Lewerissa

So, those were the latest updates from my part, I sincerely hope that you’d find them helpful.

Thank you again for your time and kind attention. Let me know if you need more, related information, and we’ll see what’s possible to be done.

Best regards,”

Nikka Amanda Gunadharma is the West Papua Communication & Outreach Coordinator for Conservation International, Indonesia.
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